Thursday, August 29, 2013

We Can & Must Do Better

By Jim Hill

This week our nation marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and the transformative "I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hundreds of thousands of Americans gathered in Washington 50 years ago for a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and across the National Mall. On Wednesday, August 28, on the anniversary of Dr. King's call for freedom and justice for all Americans, I had the privilege of participating in an event at our state Capitol to remember Dr. King's legacy.

In his speech delivered during the rally 50 years ago, Dr. King, acknowledged that 100 years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, black men and women were not free and the promise of our nation was not a reality for people of color in our nation.

My faith demands that I acknowledge that 50 years later we still do not live in a nation where freedom and justice are provided for all. We live in a country where justice is not blind, and the poor and minorities do not receive the same justice as the wealthy. I believe we can and we must do better.

We live in a state where there is great disparity and inequity, and where the economic systems, both private and public, are bent in ways that benefit the affluent and keep many of our citizens trapped in poverty and hopelessness. I believe we can and we must do better.

We live in communities violence and crime become the result of our failure to provide education, opportunity, and a sense of hope for the all our citizens. We act as though some of our citizens do not matter. I believe we can and we must do better.

At the core of Dr. King's speech was a sense of urgency. He spoke for those who were tired of waiting for freedom and justice. They were tired of being told to wait for a better time, when entire generations of their families lived under repression and oppression. The March on Washington signaled a moment when a people said "now is the time." It was a critically important moment in the process which led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Has our country made progress in providing freedom and justice for all our citizens? Surely, we have. But perhaps the greatest danger we face as we celebrate the anniversary of this historic March and Dr. King's speech, is to believe we arrived. In many respects we have only begun our journey toward justice. Today as it was 50 years ago, people of faith must take a stand in their congregations and communities for justice for all people.

Fifty years ago a movement for freedom and justice was launched. Our task is to pick up the torch in our generation and continue the march toward justice for all people. This is the only meaningful way to honor Dr. King's legacy. People of faith need to stand up and lead the efforts to help our nation heal its brokenness as we learn to understand and trust one another. I believe we can and we must do better.

You can contact Jim Hill, Churchnet Executive Director, at (888) 420-2426 ext. 705 or at jimhill@thechurchnet.org.

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